Crohn's Disease Glossary

Understanding Crohn's disease and how it affects you is essential to making the most of your treatment. Here are some terms that relate to Crohn's disease that you may have read or heard your doctor use that will enhance your understanding of your condition and your treatment.

Abdominal distention

When the abdomen is enlarged or swollen due to internal pressure in the intestines.

Abdominal pain

Pain in the belly (the abdomen). Abdominal pain can come from conditions affecting a variety of organs. In Crohn's disease, the organs causing pain are usually the intestines.


An abscess, or collection of pus, can form in the intestinal wall caused by infection from bacteria, sometimes as a result of a fistula.


A drug that is used to treat infections caused by bacteria and other microorganisms. Antibiotics such as metronidazole and ciprofloxacin are sometimes prescribed to treat abscesses and fistulas. Other antibiotics may be prescribed to treat bacterial overgrowth in the intestine caused by obstruction or abscesses.

Anti-diarrheal medication

Refers to over-the-counter medications like Imodium® and Pepto-Bismol® that help relieve diarrhea.

Anti-inflammatory medication

Drugs used to control inflammation. In Crohn's disease, these may include sulfasalazine or other medications containing mesalamine (5-ASA agents), and corticosteroids.


Biologics are the most recently developed medications for the treatment of moderate to severe Crohn's disease. Biologic drugs are engineered to target a specific inflammatory protein or enzyme in the body.


Another name for the intestine. The small bowel and the large bowel are the small intestine and large intestine, respectively.

Colectomy (and Proctocolectomy)

Sometimes surgery is needed to remove the entire colon (colectomy). The end of the small intestine (the ileum) is then joined to the rectum.

In a proctocolectomy, both the colon and rectum is removed. An ileostomy must then be performed to bring the end of the small intestine (ileum) through a hole (stoma) in the abdominal wall, allowing drainage of intestinal waste out of the body.


The large intestine; serves to remove water from digested food and moves the remaining solid waste (stool) to the rectum.

Crohn's disease

Crohn's disease is a long-term (chronic) condition that causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal (digestive) tract.


Fissures are tears or cracks in the lining of the anus which may be superficial or deep. Unlike fistulas, fissures are only in the area of the anus.


Sometimes deep ulcers in the intestine can turn into tracts—called fistulas—that connect different parts of the intestine. Fistulas can also tunnel into surrounding tissues such as the bladder, vagina, or skin, and often become infected.

Gastrointestinal (GI) tract

The organs that extend from the mouth to the anus that digest food: mouth, esophagus, stomach, duodenum, small intestine, large intestine (colon), rectum and anus. Also referred to as the alimentary canal and digestive tract.


The lowest part of the small intestine, located beyond the duodenum and jejunum, just before the large intestine (the colon).

Immunosuppressive medication

Medications that block the body's immune response, which can cause inflammation. Types of immunosuppressants that may be used to treat Crohn's include azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine, methotrexate, and cyclosporine.


A reaction by the body to infection, irritation or other injury that includes swelling and pain; a type of immune response.


The most common complication of Crohn's disease is obstruction of the intestine because of swelling and the formation of scar tissue. The result is thickening of the bowel wall and a significantly narrowed intestinal passage.


The last 6 to 8 inches of the large intestine. The rectum stores solid waste until it leaves the body through the anus.


If a constricted area of the intestine, or stricture, is long, or there are multiple strictures close to one another, it may be necessary to remove the affected section of the intestine. The two ends of healthy intestine are then joined together.

Small intestine

The part of the digestive tract that extends from the stomach to the large intestine.


A procedure to widen a constricted area of the small intestine without removing any portion of it.


Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) is a protein in the body. Excess levels of this protein cause inflammation in certain areas of the body. In Crohn's disease the affected area is the gastrointestinal tract.

Important Safety Information About HUMIRA® (adalimumab)1

What is the most important information I should know about HUMIRA?

You should discuss the potential benefits and risks of HUMIRA with your doctor. HUMIRA is a TNF blocker medicine that can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections. You should not start taking HUMIRA if you have any kind of infection unless your doctor says it is okay.

  • Serious infections have happened in people taking HUMIRA. These serious infections include tuberculosis (TB) and infections caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria that have spread throughout the body. Some people have died from these infections. Your doctor should test you for TB before starting HUMIRA, and check you closely for signs and symptoms of TB during treatment with HUMIRA. If your doctor feels you are at risk, you may be treated with medicine for TB.

  • Cancer. For children and adults taking TNF blockers, including HUMIRA, the chance of getting lymphoma or other cancers may increase. There have been cases of unusual cancers in children, teenagers, and young adults using TNF blockers. Some people have developed a rare type of cancer called hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma. This type of cancer often results in death. If using TNF blockers including HUMIRA, your chance of getting two types of skin cancer (basal cell and squamous cell) may increase. These types are generally not life-threatening if treated; tell your doctor if you have a bump or open sore that doesn’t heal.

What should I tell my doctor BEFORE starting HUMIRA?

Tell your doctor about all of your health conditions, including if you:

  • Have an infection, are being treated for infection, or have symptoms of an infection
  • Get a lot of infections or infections that keep coming back
  • Have diabetes
  • Have TB or have been in close contact with someone with TB, or were born in, lived in, or traveled where there is more risk for getting TB
  • Live or have lived in an area (such as the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys) where there is an increased risk for getting certain kinds of fungal infections, such as histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, or blastomycosis
  • Have or have had hepatitis B
  • Are scheduled for major surgery
  • Have or have had cancer
  • Have numbness or tingling or a nervous system disease such as multiple sclerosis or Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • Have or had heart failure
  • Have recently received or are scheduled to receive a vaccine. HUMIRA patients may receive vaccines, except for live vaccines
  • Are allergic to rubber, latex, or any HUMIRA ingredients
  • Are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to breastfeed

Also tell your doctor about all the medicines you take. You should not take HUMIRA with ORENCIA® (abatacept), KINERET® (anakinra), REMICADE® (infliximab), ENBREL® (etanercept), CIMZIA® (certolizumab pegol), or SIMPONI® (golimumab). Tell your doctor if you have ever used RITUXAN® (rituximab), IMURAN® (azathioprine), or PURINETHOL® (mercaptopurine, 6-MP).

What should I watch for AFTER starting HUMIRA?

HUMIRA can cause serious side effects, including:

  • Serious infections. These include TB and infections caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria. Symptoms related to TB include a cough, low-grade fever, weight loss, or loss of body fat and muscle.
  • Hepatitis B infection in carriers of the virus. Symptoms include muscle aches, feeling very tired, dark urine, skin or eyes that look yellow, little or no appetite, vomiting, clay-colored bowel movements, fever, chills, stomach discomfort, and skin rash.
  • Allergic reactions. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction include hives, trouble breathing, and swelling of your face, eyes, lips, or mouth.
  • Nervous system problems. Signs and symptoms include numbness or tingling, problems with your vision, weakness in your arms or legs, and dizziness.
  • Blood problems. Symptoms include a fever that does not go away, bruising or bleeding very easily, or looking very pale.
  • Heart failure (new or worsening). Symptoms include shortness of breath, swelling of your ankles or feet, and sudden weight gain.
  • Immune reactions including a lupus-like syndrome. Symptoms include chest discomfort or pain that does not go away, shortness of breath, joint pain, or rash on your cheeks or arms that gets worse in the sun.
  • Liver problems. Symptoms include feeling very tired, skin or eyes that look yellow, poor appetite or vomiting, and pain on the right side of your stomach (abdomen).
  • Psoriasis (new or worsening). Symptoms include red scaly patches or raised bumps that are filled with pus.

Call your doctor or get medical care right away if you develop any of the above symptoms.

Common side effects of HUMIRA include injection site reactions (redness, rash, swelling, itching, or bruising), upper respiratory infections (sinus infections), headaches, rash, and nausea. These are not all of the possible side effects with HUMIRA. Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

Remember, tell your doctor right away if you have an infection or symptoms of an infection, including:

  • Fever, sweats, or chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blood in phlegm
  • Weight loss
  • Warm, red, or painful skin or sores on your body
  • Diarrhea or stomach pain
  • Burning when you urinate
  • Urinating more often than normal
  • Feeling very tired

HUMIRA is given by injection under the skin.

This is the most important information to know about HUMIRA. For more information, talk to your health care provider.




HUMIRA is a prescription medicine used:

  • To reduce the signs and symptoms of:
    • Moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in adults. HUMIRA can be used alone, with methotrexate, or with certain other medicines. HUMIRA may prevent further damage to your bones and joints and may help your ability to perform daily activities.
    • Moderate to severe polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) in children 4 years of age and older. HUMIRA can be used alone, with methotrexate, or with certain other medicines.
    • Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) in adults. HUMIRA can be used alone or with certain other medicines. HUMIRA may prevent further damage to your bones and joints and may help your ability to perform daily activities.
    • Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) in adults.
    • Moderate to severe Crohn's disease (CD) and to achieve and maintain clinical remission in adults who have not responded well to conventional treatments. HUMIRA is also for these adults who have lost response to or are unable to tolerate infliximab.
  • In adults, to help get moderate to severe ulcerative colitis (UC) under control (induce remission) and keep it under control (sustain remission) when certain other medicines have not worked well enough. It is not known if HUMIRA is effective in people who stopped responding to or could not tolerate anti-TNF medicines.
  • To treat moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis (Ps) in adults who are ready for systemic therapy or phototherapy, and are under the care of a doctor who will decide if other systemic therapies are less appropriate.


Please see the Full Prescribing Information, including the Medication Guide, for HUMIRA.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

If you cannot afford your medication, contact: or call the toll-free phone number (1-888-4PPA-NOW) for assistance.

Safety Considerations1

Serious infections have happened in people taking HUMIRA. These serious infections include tuberculosis (TB) and infections caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria that have spread throughout the body. Some people have died from these infections. HUMIRA may increase the chance of getting lymphoma, including a rare kind, or other cancers. HUMIRA can cause serious side effects including hepatitis B infection in carriers of the virus, allergic reactions, nervous system problems, blood problems, heart failure, certain immune reactions including a lupus-like syndrome, liver problems, and new or worsening psoriasis.


HUMIRA is a prescription medicine used to reduce signs and symptoms, and to achieve and maintain clinical remission in adults with moderate to severe Crohn’s disease who have not responded well to conventional treatments, and in these adults who have also lost response to or are unable to tolerate infliximab.

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